Traffic relief

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

AHOSKIE – At their October meeting, the Ahoskie Town Council heard from Town Manager Kerry McDuffie on proposed changes to Ahoskie Creek Park, with particular emphasis on questions that have arose from area residents with regard to traffic at the public facility.

At the September meeting, resident Henry Daniels presented to the Board a petition signed by his neighbors for a review of traffic in the Park complex, with concern about speeding traffic, the potential for vehicular wrecks and mishaps, and general safe driving ideas. The petition was left for review in the Town Clerk’s office at the Ahoskie Town Hall.

“Our staff has made a list of about a dozen things we feel would significantly and dramatically improve the traffic conditions,” said McDuffie in October.

“However, as far as total dollars, we’ve got no quotes on this; these are just numbers we’ve pulled out as rough estimates.”

The report cited 10 correction items with a cost estimate to the city of between $50,000-and-$60,000:

Adding a sign at the Evans and Academy Streets park entrance. Cost: $3,000;

Adding lights to the Evans St. park entrance. $8,000;

Turn the Main Street tennis courts into a basketball court. $8,000;

Re-route the disc golf hole near the Memorial and Lakeview Drive park entrance. $500;

Construct a new road to connect Memorial and Lakeview closer to the baseball field. $25,000;

Block Memorial Drive at rear property line of 503 Lakeview Drive, and construct a privacy fence around the Memorial-Lakeview corner of the park. $7,000;

Construct barricade on Lakeview at the SW property line of 600 Lakeview Dr. to allow bicycles, golf carts, and pedestrian traffic only; no vehicles. $500;

Install a gate at Camlin St. at the NW property line of 902 Camlin St.; to remain closed except during Heritage Days, July 4th, and other special events. $3,000;

Remove ALL speed bumps from all parts of town. $1,000;

Police department clears the park and closes the Evans St. gate each night after dark and re-open at 5 a.m. each morning.

Total estimate: $56,000

“However, since this will cost us quite a bit of money, not in the budget right now, the staff is recommending we do items 1, 2, and 3 on this list right now,” McDuffie continued. “For items 4-thru-10, let’s hold off until the next budget year after we evaluate the effectiveness of the improvements of the first three.”

McDuffie said if Evans and Memorial is the main entrance to the park, then a sign should be displayed that says so. Afterward, he proposed adding lights at the entrance, not merely for the signage, but also for patrons using the facility either late evening, or early morning.

“The $8,000 (estimate) is if we were to put the lights up ourselves, own and maintain it,” he noted.

“But it may be better if Dominion Power put them up and we pay for them like you would a street light. It might be at significantly lower cost to us.”

The Town Manager suggested converting the tennis courts on Main Street to basketball courts not only to reduce foot traffic at the park, but also to add an additional outdoor basketball facility on Main.

“Those tennis courts have wear and tear that make them less than ideal for tennis,” he stated. “But they’re better built for basketball and we’ve really not had that many people come in and make inquiries about using the tennis courts.”

Councilwoman Linda Blackburn said residents have held meetings regarding suggestions and recommendations for the park, and she asked if this group would be involved in the decision-making with the staff’s proposals.

“They can be, but (so far) they have not,” McDuffie answered.

“I just wish they could hear this and be a part of it, even if there are disagreements,” Blackburn urged. “Part of that is why they brought this to our attention.”

Councilman Matt Bradley mentioned that he had spoken to Daniels and his group informally, and updated them that Council was working on solutions for the residents’ concerns.

“Sometimes people bring in these concerns, ideas, and suggestions before us, and they don’t hear back from us to know what we’re doing because this is great,” said Blackburn.

“I just want them to know what’s going on, because they brought this to our attention, and need to know what we’re doing; it keeps them involved.”

Councilman Charles Freeman suggested tabling the staff recommendations for park and recreation upgrades and inviting Daniels and his group to Council’s November meeting since it is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the evening.

“That’s because of the large number that showed up (in September),” Freeman noted. “And, that meeting is also at night (7 p.m.).”

“I agree, because there are a lot of people who are interested in this,” added Blackburn. “Plus, we’re going to need their support.”

Freeman then made a motion to table the staff’s recommendations until the November meeting, seconded by Councilman Rev. C. David Stackhouse. It passed unanimously with a 5-0 Council vote.